MONESSEN – The Mid Mon Valley All Sports Hall of Fame held its 24th annual induction ceremony Friday night at the St. Spyridon Hellenic Center and it featured plenty of memories, smiles, and emotions.
As is the norm, the event was sold out.
Lanny Frattare, the former Pittsburgh Pirates broadcaster, was the toastmaster, and he kept the crowd laughing throughout.
The first inductee of the night to be honored was Don Bartolomucci.
After a stellar playing career at Brownsville and then Waynesburg, Bartolomucci began his coaching career, which spanned 37 years and included stints at Beth-Center and Brownsville.
“This is very humbling and totally unbelievable,” Bartolomucci said before thanking former coaches and players and then talking about his family.
“Your greatest accomplishment is your family, and my kids and grandkids are successful and that is all I can ask for. I am truly, truly honored and my family is my greatest achievement.”
Phil Hughes, the former Charleroi football star who produced school records of 3,217 yards and 257 career points, credited his teammates.
“It is such a privilege to be among the elite but I didn’t do it by myself,” he said. “I could go on and on but I won’t because I am tearing up.”
Joe Margoneri, a former Major League Baseball pitcher, was next to be inducted.
“I am 87 years old and so nervous,” he said before talking about the parallel of his baseball career with being with his wife Helen, whom he has been married to for 63 years.
“My life started with her the same time as baseball, and now we have five kids, 13 grandkids, and 11 great-grandkids.”
Margoneri talked about how, while in the military, he would sometimes write Helen a week’s worth of letters and mail one a day because at times he was too busy to write her daily.
“I admitted to her recently that I did that,” he said. “And she told me that she did the exact same thing to me.”
After Frattare went into the crowd to introduce Helen, he asked her what she would have told her husband to say, and she gave the line of the night.
“That I love him and always will.”
After the thunderous applause died down, Frattare introduced former Ringgold and Pitt basketball standout Scott Nedrow.
“What an incredible honor it is to be with all of you tonight,” he said while fighting back his emotions. “This induction is for all of those who taught me, guided me, played with me and especially my family.
“My parents taught my brother, my sister and me to always take pride in your work and finish what you start, and to respect everyone but fear no one.”
Nedrow talked about his 1973 Ringgold basketball team.
“Our five starters and top substitute all received Division I scholarships in either basketball, football or track,” he said. “And four of the starters and Coach (Fran) LaMendola are now in the Hall.”
Daryle Ruby, the former Bellmar High School and Pitt basketball standout, followed.
“The highlight of my career was playing in Madison Square Garden and Lord knows that (wife) Nancy has given me direction for 52 years,” he said. “My son always says that when good things happen to you, life is good. This is one of those times.”
Monessen boys basketball coach Joe Salvino, who has guided Monessen to six WPIAL championships, two PIAA titles, 20 section titles and 626 wins, was the last inductee to speak.
“I congratulate my fellow inductees, and it is a great honor to be inducted with you,” he said. “This honor is not just about me though, as it is about all of my coaches, all of my players and anyone who made it possible.”
Salvino credited current Monessen school board director Randy Marino, a former Monessen teacher, principal and coach, with getting him into coaching before thanking his kids and finally his wife, Toni Lynn.
“Randy was the one who asked me to coach when he, Phil Pergola and a few others started a middle school league,” Salvino said. “And, of course, I save the best for last and that is my wife Toni Lynn. I thank her for all she does, her support and her dedication to me coaching.”
MMVASHOF Chairman of the Board Dennis Stitch was awarded the organization’s Appreciation Award.
Scholar-athletes honored during the event included Belle Vernon’s Sophia Yantko, Bentworth’s Josh Hughes and Autumn Zgorliski, Brownsville’s Alie Seto, California’s Nathaniel Luketich and Jenna Miller, Charleroi’s Carter Riskey and Jessica Day, Elizabeth Forward’s Ryan Lee and Madison Ambler, Monessen’s Justice Rice and Tori Cooper, Ringgold’s Dalton Holt and Olivia Warner, and Yough’s Jack Cleary and Olivia Miller.
Also honored were WPIAL champions from the area including California’s Ashley McIntosh, who won a gold in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles, the Monessen basketball team, the California baseball team, and the Belle Vernon softball team.